Practicing yoga can really improve your overall fitness and health. But class costs can add up to hundreds a month if you attend several times a week.1
If you’re worried about the cost, check to see whether your health insurance covers yoga. Unfortunately, the answer is probably not. Most insurance plans exclude yoga as a covered service.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. And, there may be other ways to save money on yoga classes through your insurance company. Here’s what you need to know.
Different Types of Insurance And Yoga Coverage
Let’s look at the different types of health insurance and their general approach to covering yoga.
Insurance through your employer
If you get insurance through an employer, it likely doesn’t include coverage for yoga classes. A handful of plans will cover alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga, but they may be prohibitively expensive.2
Insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Plans through a state or federal health insurance marketplace don’t cover yoga classes or gym membership fees. The ACA requires insurance companies to provide coverage for lab services and mental health services. It does not require insurers to cover alternative or complementary medicine, which is how yoga is usually classified.3
If you enrolled in Original Medicare, your plan doesn’t cover gym memberships or fitness programs.4
However, you may be able to get coverage for yoga classes if you have Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans may offer services, such as vision, dental and wellness programs, that Original Medicare does not. Check out.5 In some cases, you can get free access to fitness equipment and group exercise classes, which may include yoga classes.6
Medicaid doesn’t typically cover yoga classes. Medicaid’s mandatory benefits include inpatient and outpatient hospital services, physician services, and laboratory and x-ray services. States administer their own Medicaid programs, so some could include additional benefits like physical therapy and occupational therapy. There is one exception – you may be able to get coverage if your prescribed physical or occupational therapy includes yoga.7
How can an HSA, FSA, or HRA Help?
If you have a savings account for medical expenses or get reimbursed for insurance expenses from your employer, you can use those funds to reimburse yourself for eligible healthcare expenses. These funds include:
- Health Savings Account (HSA): If you have a high-deductible health plan, you may have an health savings account (HSA). An HSA is an account you fund before taxes to pay for eligible healthcare expenses.
- Health Reimbursement Account (HRA): Your employer owns your HRA account and contributes money to it.
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA): An FSA can be created with an employer-sponsored plan or an individual plan. You can use the FSA to cover medical expenses that your health plan doesn’t cover.
If a licensed healthcare provider diagnoses you with a medical condition and recommends that you attend yoga classes as part of your treatment, the cost for these classes is often reimbursable from your HRA, FSA, or HSA.8
How Do I Find Out if My Insurance Covers Yoga?
When reviewing your health plan documents, it may not be immediately obvious if your plan covers yoga or not. To find out, check your plan’s list of excluded services. This list details what services your plan will not cover under any circumstances. It may state that alternative therapies like massage, yoga, and acupuncture are not covered.
If it’s not clear, contact your insurance company’s customer service department. Explain your health condition and stress that your doctor recommended yoga as a treatment. Then, ask if there is any way to get coverage for some or all of your yoga classes. The representative will give you a definitive answer.
Make sure to keep notes. Write down whom you spoke with and when you called. Having that information is essential if your insurance company later denies your yoga coverage.
What Are Other Ways to Get Coverage?
There are ways you can make yoga more affordable even if your insurance doesn’t cover yoga classes.
Check if your insurer offers a discount program
Several insurers offer discount programs for exercise and alternative therapies such as yoga. It’s not insurance coverage. Instead, they partner with companies to offer savings on equipment and gym memberships.
- Aetna: With the Aetna Fitness discount program, you can save money on gym memberships, yoga mats, and other fitness equipment.9
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: As a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BSBC) member, you may have access to the Blue 365 program. This program offers discounts on a wide range of apparel and services, including LiveKick, a yoga videoclass.10
- Keep in mind that each Blue Cross Blue Shield company is independent and locally operated so the Blue 365 program may not be available to every BCBS member.
- Cigna: Through Cigna’s Health Rewards program, you can get discounts on Yoga DVDs, mats, and accessories.11
Ask if yoga is covered under fitness or weight-loss reimbursement benefits
If your plan doesn’t cover yoga, you may have another way to get some help with class costs. Some insurers offer partial reimbursement for fitness or weight-loss programs. Some insurance programs, for example a BCBS plan in Massachusetts will reimburse you for yoga classes that you take at eligible fitness studios.12
Another plan, United Healthcare’s Sweat Equity Program, gives eligible members up to $200 for attending fitness classes. To qualify for the $200 reimbursement, you must complete at least 50 classes within a six-month period. Qualifying classes include yoga, aerobics, and more.13
While most insurance plans don’t cover yoga classes, you may still be able to find ways to receive discounts or reimbursement for some expenses. If you’re not sure what kind of savings your insurance plan offers, contact your insurer directly. You may be surprised to find out how much you can save.